Ford Shows How To Tune Car Audio

POSTED BY admin ON 14 February 2012



Eagle’s Hotel California is the most versatile song to be used for testing sound quality of a car’s audio unit. The classic opening to the Eagles’ anthem Hotel California features the ideal “dry” sound for testing bass, ambience and tone, says Ford of Europe audio engineer Matthias Terstegge. He should know. He has listened to it thousands of times while developing the B-MAX and other Ford cars. Hotel Califonia is a good song to test a wide range of audio performance including low bass / mid bass / ambience / stage width / tonal balance.

Besides holding a day job as Ford’s audio engineer, Terstegge is also a guitarist with a deep passion for music. He is responsible for sound reproduction in Ford’s latest product – the B-Max compact MPV. Besides Hotel California, Black Eyed Peas’ Just Can’t Get Enough is also used to test the woofers in the B-MAX; tuning the low frequency filters in the amplifier unit to retain a strong and punchy bass sound without door buzz and rattles.

The challenge in tuning a car audio is that because of compromises required for critical issues like safety, ergonomics, cost, aesthetics and manufacturing limitations, a car’s cabin is inherently not ideal for perfect audio reproduction. Moreover, perceived sound quality is highly dependent on an occupant’s seating position.

According to Ford, bass sounds are evenly distributed but the treble is sensitive to seating position. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos and John Coltrane tracks were used to tune the B-Max’s tweeters for good front/rear balance. The soaring Four Seasons violins were an exacting challenge for the B-MAX’s high-frequency tweeters. If they’re not set right, the sound could have been more piercing than pleasurable.

“Creating a great-sounding system is much more than choosing a good quality amplifier and speakers,” says Terstegge. “Each car interior has completely different acoustics, and detailed tuning can make a dramatic difference to what the driver hears,” he says. “The human ear can detect subtle differences in the sound and you can’t beat simply listening to the system for that final tuning. The tracks we use really help identify what needs tuning. But after thousands of plays, I feel like I never want to hear them again.”

The new Ford B-Max will be equipped with an 8-speaker exclusive premium quality Sony audio system, including a 4 x 25 Watt Sony amplifier.

List of songs recommended to test a car audio’s sound quality. You can also listen to them here. Read more about the Ford B-Max here.

Artist Track Tuning potential
Yello Oh Yeah Kick bass / Low voice
Fugees Nappy Heads Low bass / Mid bass / Door buzz
Talking Heads Flowers Kick bass / Door buzz / Woofer distortion
Radiohead Packt Like Sardines Kick bass / Door buzz / Woofer distortion
Peter Gabriel Growing Up Low bass / Kick bass / Door buzz
Joan Baez Diamonds And Rust Ambience / Treble / Tonal balance
Black Eyed Peas Just Can’t Get Enough Low Bass/ Kick Bass/ Door Buzz
Mariah Carey Butterfly Ambience / Treble / Tonal balance
Susanne Vega Tom’s Diner Center imaging
Jennifer Warnes Somewhere, Somebody Center imaging / Mid bass /Tonal balance
Steve Strauss Mr. Bones Center imaging / Mid bass /Tonal balance
John Coltrane My Lazy Bird / My Favorite Things Treble / Tweeter distortion
Carl Orff Carmina Burana Treble / Tweeter distortion / Dynamics
Vivaldi Four Seasons: The Summer Treble / Tweeter distortion / Stage width
Eagles Hotel California Live Low bass / Mid bass / Ambience / Stage width
/ Tonal balance

The B-Max will be launched on Feb-27, powered by a range of engines including a new 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and a 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engine, both of which Ford says will offer class-leading fuel economy and CO2 emissions.


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